Konkani Language


Konkani Our Mother Tongue :
"Our mother tongue is Konkani. Konkan denotes a place. The coastal Maharashtra to the north of Goa, consisting of Ratnagiri, Malwan etc. is called "Konkanpatti" even to-day and the people here as well as in Goa and Uttar Kannada consisting of Karwar, Kumta and Honavar speak Konkani irrespective of their caste, creed or community. To the south of Bhatkal, up to Kanyakumari people speak Konkani but the other languages like Kannada, Tulu and Malayalam are more prominent in these areas".
 This is what Shrimat Sudhindra Tirth Swamiji of Shri Kashi Math Samsthan states about Konkani. Shri Swamiji further states as follows in an interview given to Shri K. G. Mallya in respect of Konkani, which is published recently by the Konkan Railways in their recent publication, Konkan Nama. 

Konkans and Konkani :
In our Puranas and other ancient writings there is a mention of 'Sapta Konkana' or seven Konkans. These seven Konkans were in the west coast of India. Although Konkani language is identified with an area geographically, it is surprising that only we, the Gowda Saraswat Brahmins are called 'konkanis', 'konkans' or 'konkanigaru'. To amplify further, although many others have Konkani as their mother-tongue, they are not called 'konkanis'. With this we can infer that originally we were the people who propagated and encouraged this language. In the above referred Konkanpatti even today we are referred to as Brahmins and not Konkanis as we are Gowda Saraswat Brahmins carrying out the duties expected of Brahmins.

Gowda Saraswat Brahmins :
Even this name Gowda Saraswat Brahmins refers to the places. Our ancestors in the days of yore, resided on the banks of the River Saraswati. There was a very severe drought lasting for many years as a result of which the river got dried up and they had to leave the place. They moved eastwards and reached a place called "Trihotrapura", the present day "Tiruhut" in the state of Bihar. In the olden days the Vedic literature was called "thrayee" and the "ritvijs" participating in the "yajnas" were "hotas". Therefore the very name "Trihotrapura" suggests that it could have been a prominent centre for learning Vedas. Incidentally this
township was in Gowda Desha comprising of the present day states of Bihar and Bengal. The very name Gowda Desha was associated with the production of "guda" - jaggery. On account of our residing in both the Gowda Desha and Saraswat country, we acquired the name of Gowda Saraswat Brahmins. The subsequent story is known to everyone. Lord Parashurama acquired and reclaimed land from the sea in the western part of our country which came to be known as Parashurama Srishti. To officiate the sacrifices he was going to perform, Lord Parashurama invited our ancestors and thus we reached Gomantak, the present day Goa.
Konkani Sardar - Shri Basti Vaman Shenoy is seen here addressing at Konkani Kala Utsav 

Konkani Language :
The journey of our ancestors did not complete within a day or two. It took centuries. When they resided in Trihotrapura they came in contact with other languages such as Maithili, Magadhi and Ardha Magadhi with a result that a new language, Konkani took shape. Thus when they reached Goa, it appears along with Sanskrit they had taken Konkani also. Since Konkani was their contact language through which they communicated with others they became Konkanis. The locality where they resided became Konkan and since they were Brahmins, in the Konkanpatti, they were called Brahmins which is being continued even today.  

 Although they were migrating from place to place and although times were changing, our ancestors never abandoned their duties and culture. Therefore while in Goa, they could not tolerate the harsh treatment meted out to them by the rulers in the name of religion. To preserve their own religious faith and culture, leaving behind everything, home, wealth and cattle, they migrated overnight southwards to Bhatkal, Mulki, Mangalore, Calicut and Cochin. In the new places they received full protection and shelter to enable them to open a new chapter in their lives. But they did not forget their mother tongue - Konkani. Yes, they did not forget Konkani. But in the process of migration, a lot of literary wealth in the form of folk tales, songs, sayings, proverbs etc. was lost. Because of lack of support and patronage by the rulers, the language did not thrive though it survived. As they did not reside in a single place and their homes scattered all over, the language did not have a common script. Therefore, in Konkanpatti - Devanagari, Goa - Roman, Bhatkal-Kannada and Persian, Mangalore - Kannada and Kerala - Malayalam scripts were used . When in the schools, the education was imparted in the language of the respective states, Konkani did not receive the proper weightage and the position and so it became weak and poor. We somehow managed to retain the language as mother-tongue, but the younger generation in Maharashtra took to speaking Marathi, Karnataka - Kannada and Kerala - Malayalam, as a result of which the language received a further blow.

Script For Konkani :
"Konkani should survive and Konkani should thrive!"
Like this in Mangalore and Cochin, a peaceful movement took place. Because of this awareness today in Kerala, Konkani is taught in the schools and over the radio Konkani programmes are being broadcast. Even though they are only a few, Konkani movies have been produced and exhibited. If we have a will, nothing is impossible. Konkani is now recognised as an independent language and let us feel proud about this honour bestowed on us. Normally, if a language does not have a script of its own, it can adopt Devanagari script and get itself enriched. It appears both Marathi and Gujarati languages have done the same thing and achieved success. 
Shri B. V. Baliga, Editor - Panchkadayi, a Konkani monthly, is seen here addressing First World Konkani Convention at Mangalore

 Therefore we can adopt Devanagari and write Konkani. With this we can bring about uniformity. Then we can borrow words from other languages and make our language effective and rich. So far as Konkani is concerned Devanagari alone is and could be a convenient script.

The World Konkani Convention :
It is a matter of pride that in 1995, in the month of December in Mangalore, the first ever World Konkani Convention took place. There should be many more programmes of this nature periodically so that Konkani speaking people with different background will come together, exchange views and ideas and thereafter strive for the betterment of the language. In this way our mother-tongue Konkani could attain a glorious position and let us hope certainly she will.

A Different Version :
According to another version, our forefathers were speaking a language called Saraswati on the banks of the River Saraswati which they carried along during migrations. By coming into contact with Maithili and Ardhamagadhi, it was enriched and when they reached Goa they had already developed a new language. Konkan was then named as Konga Vana and when it became Konkan later, the language was known as Konkani. 

The Present Status :
* Government of India has since recognised Konkani as an independent language and the Central Sahitya Academy annually gives away an award for the best book in Konkani. 
* In Kerala, Konkani is being taught as a recognised language.
* In Goa, it is the official language of the State Government.
* In Karnataka, the State Government has established Konkani Sahitya Academy to encourage Konkani Literature and give away suitable awards annually. 
* People with Konkani as their mother-tongue are deemed to be linguistic minority and get preferential treatment while seeking admissions for higher education. There is a separate quota for them in Manipal, Karnataka State.
* Konkani Bhashoddhara Trust, Manipal - 576119 gives away annual awards for best literary works in Konkani and also organises drama festivals and drama competitions.
* There are two Konkani Magazines:  
(a) Panchkadayi, Syndicate House, Manipal. Is in the 34th year of publication. Annual   Subscription Rs.50/- Life Membership Rs.400/- Founder Editor: Shri B. V. Baliga and Editor: Shri B. Damodar Prabhu 
(b) Samskar Bodh c/o Shri Ramachandra Charitable Trust, Mangalore Road, Karkala Pin Code No. 574104. Annual Subscription Rs.50/-, Life Membership Rs.500/- Editor Shri M. Jayawantha Nayak.
* So far only two movies in GSB Konkani have been produced:
1) Tapaswini and 2) Jana Mana.
* There are only a few writers in Konkani. For want of readership the literature has not developed to the extent desired.